If polls are to be believed, then there is a good chance come next January the Democratic Party will hold the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time in over a decade. In fact, if polls are to be believed the Demcrats will pick up seats and Obama could be the first Democratif presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since LBJ in 1964.
The question, then, is where does the GOP go? A WaPo piece by Peter Wehner lays out a reasonable track, but it also is a message that I fear will be misinterpreted.
Wehner suggests that America is still a center-right nation, and that various polls suggest that folks still value the idea of small government and low taxes. The problem is that during the last ten years the GOP has driven off the tracks and “gone native”.
I have suggested the same many times over-that the GOP no longer stands for anything except for power. The GOP has been so willing to play the game that when a man like Tom Coburn stands in the way of expenditures he thinks are a bad idea, he doesn’t get big support even within his own party.
Wehner hits it on the nose when he writes:
But saying that conservatism is in better shape than the GOP is not to say it doesn’t face challenges. It would be silly and self-defeating for Republicans to repudiate conservatism’s core principles of a strong national defense, limited government, constitutionalism and protection for unborn children. Yet it would be shortsighted to believe that the issues that worked more than a quarter-century ago will carry the day.
But here is where it gets tricky. Wehner suggests:
Issues such as welfare and crime, which helped conservatism achieve dominance, are not as potent as they were. And while taxes and spending remain important, stagnant wages and middle-class anxieties, the housing and credit crisis, health care, immigration, energy, and the environment also command domestic attention. Conservatives need to convince the public that they have a compelling agenda to address these issues.
Herein is the problem. The issues Wehner points out behind Door #1 are almost all quality of life issues, and even issues like immigration can carry a degree of the same within it. However, the GOP seems to believe that what they should do is choose Door #2, talk low taxes worrying about spending, and repeat the conservative position on social issues, and all will be well.
I will tell you now Door #2 is the pathway to a prolonged stint in the wilderness. Conservatism is based in individual liberty and small government that lives within its means. A family that is on the verge of losing their home because of bad government fiscal policy or lack of policing doesn’t have much time to focus on gay marriage or being pro-life.
The GOP has to restore itself on numerous fronts, but it seems to me that until the party recommits itself to its conservative roots and seeks solutions to pocket book Main Street issues, then…well…we will be saying “Speaker Pelosi” for a long time.